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Manager of Kingston sports centre where Declan Rice played 5-a-side speaks out:

By Ellie Brown - Local Democracy Reporter

14th Jul 2021 | Local News

A sports centre in Kingston where England midfielder Declan Rice used to play 5-a-side football is "super proud" of their famous alumni ahead of tonight's Euro 2020 final.

Rice, a star of this year's tournament who is in the starting XI when England play Italy tonight, was born in Kingston upon Thames and attended Grey Court School in Ham.

He was also a regular at YMCA Dickerage Sports and Community Centre in New Malden, where he played 5-a-side football and watched England games with programme manager Dan Slocombe.

Slocombe, who still works at the centre, told The Times today (11 July): "We are all super proud of what he's done.

"He'll admit that he probably had to work harder than everybody else to get where he's got.

"Being released at 14 is a big thing for a kid that age. He took it well.

"Even I never thought it was going to turn out like it has for him."

The midfielder, who plays for Premier League team West Ham, returned to Kingston for a 2019 interview with presenter and women's football star Alex Scott.

In the interview he said the town "means everything to me - growing up as a kid, being born in Kingston, the whole family being from Kingston."

He continued: "I'm grateful I can come back to places like this now as a superstar and give back to the kids who want to be where I am."

You can watch the interview HERE

Rice's teammate Luke Shaw was also born in Kingston and played for Molesey juniors before moving to Southhampton F.C.

We'll be cheering both of them on tonight!

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